A Fair Maiden by Joyce Carol Oates
|A Fair Maiden by Joyce Carol Oates|
|Genre: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie|
|Summary: This is a delicious and dark story which illustrates how - and to what degree - opposites attract. Another gem to be treasured from Joyce Carol Oates.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 176||Date: January 2010|
I've recently read the terrific short story collection The Female Of The Species also by Oates and couldn't wait to start her latest book. I felt sure that I was in for a literary treat - and I was. Firstly, the book itself, a hardback with a beautifully nostalgic cover is a book lover's delight.
We are first introduced to one of the two main characters, teenager Katya. Not so much brought up, but dragged up by her dreadful, incompetent mother. Katya can't believe her luck. Somehow, she's landed a dream summer job, looking after a well-to-do couple's young children in the long, hot summer holidays in upmarket Bayhead Harbour. She's sassy, street smart and sexy. So, when an elegantly dressed local resident speaks to her in the street, she thinks it rude not to respond with a smile and a reply. Back home in trailer-trash country, she'd probably tell him to fuck off.
The gentleman in question is a Mr Kidder. He's old enough to be Katya's grandfather. Although she's repulsed and fascinated in equal measures, she's also shrewd enough to keep in contact - her very own sugar-daddy, possibly. He, in turn, seems utterly charmed by the young Katya. The arrangement seems to suit them both. But things soon move on apace.
It takes a lonely old man pushing seventy to make Katya feel worthy, special, good about herself. It's as if she's replaced her 'bad lot' of a family for a man with silvery hair and a way with words. To Katya, it's as if he's from another planet. He treats her like a fairy princess. Everything seems to be screaming out that Mr Marcus Kidder is a pervert, or something even worse ... But is he?
There are tell-tale signs in Mr Kidder's exquisite home that says to Katya all is not right, all is not well in Paradise. But she's a hard bitch, as she would describe herself, so she conveniently pushes these thoughts to the deeper recesses of her mind. On one such occasion, Marcus Kidder tells Katya that I do have a design on you ... A Fair Maiden [and hence the title] - to be entrusted with a crucial task ...handsomely rewarded. At the mention of hard cash, Katya is hooked. As a poor kid, she'd do almost anything for money. Almost.
This novel illustrates that even if you are rich - you still can't buy back your youth. Marcus envies Katya. Katya is young and healthy and has her whole life ahead of her. She's hard-up. She envies Mr Kidder his wealth. The strange friendship/relationship had a promising start - but did it work out? Another delicious dose of Joyce Carol Oates.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this appeals then you'll also enjoy The Museum Of Doctor Moses also by Joyce Carol Oates.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.